Isaiah Thomas made his season debut for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, proving he remains an offensive threat despite the injuries that put his NBA career on hold.
Thomas ended his first NBA game since April with a team-high 19 points even though he officially signed with the Lakers only earlier that day. The guard’s performance reminded he once was one of the league’s most dangerous scorers, most notably when he played for the Boston Celtics between 2014-17.
During the 2016-17 season, Thomas averaged 28.9 points, shooting 37.9% from the 3-point land. However, the veteran playmaker has failed to register similar numbers ever since he suffered a hip injury in 2017, which eventually kept him away from the NBA’s courts.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the NBA created an opportunity for Thomas to show that his health issues are in the past — and he made the most of it on Friday. After the game, head coach Frank Vogel lauded the veteran’s offensive skillset.
“He’s a proven scorer,” Vogel said. “He’s a great offensive player that knows how to read. That’s one of the things that’s always stuck out with me. We know he’s got a shooting ability and he’s got his floaters and stuff. Knows how to get fouled at the basket, but he’s a great reader of the defense. If you bring double teams, he’s going to make the right pass. If you bluff, he’s going to take it to the basket and you have to go over his pick-and-rolls because of his shooting ability. There’s a reason he averaged 28 points a game in this league.
“We did a lot of research on him in the offseason. We had a lot of conversations about his medical and it seems like he’s made a transition.”
Vogel also confirmed the Lakers showed interest in Thomas back in the summer.
“We worked him out,” the head coach said. “An individual workout one day in the summer.”
Thomas played 17 games for the Lakers in 2017-18 after arriving in L.A. together with Channing Frye in a trade that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists.
LeBron James discusses Lakers’ adjustments following Thomas’ signing
LeBron James said he was “happy” to see Thomas back in the league, adding the guard looked healthier than when they played for the Cavaliers together.
James also explained how the Lakers managed to insert the guard into their rotation so quickly.
“We just tried to implement a couple things early on in shootaround,” the four-time NBA champion said. “I know what he’s capable of doing, I know how he affects the game and what he’s good at, so a lot of uphill dribble handoffs when he’s coming to his left hand. You know he’s gonna shoot the ball very well, he gets into the paint and can shoot free throws extremely well.
“So when you have a veteran ballclub, you can add a veteran and he’s able to mesh pretty quickly because we kind of know what he’s been able to do in this league so you know what you can do with him.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!